That year, like others when
sleet found our obscure
southern town, limbs cracked
like old bones and birds skied
down iced slopes of sagged
telephone lines. Huge bags
of rock salt were dug from
their cobwebbed hiding places
by cold fingers and spread carefully
across steep steps and walkways.
Only bald Mr. Peterson, the
transplanted Yankee from Boston,
with chains for his tires, dared
that treacherous mile long ride into
town in search of a morning paper.
Mrs. Smith's monkey, Harold, got
loose late morning. He rushed between
houses, terrorizing both rabbit and
possom. At noon, he climbed the First
Presbyterian Church steeple, ringing
its bell incessantly, in claim of his
throne as King of this strange iced-over jungle.
School closed, we played cards, ate
red-eye ham and grits, warmed hands
over fireplaces and stoves, pleased
to be freed from lectures of other
cold wars and from plump knees bruised
by kneeling too long beside desks,
prepared, lest the bombs come flying tomorrow.
By morning, we slogged through dank
puddles under still bomb-free skies,
books clasped to wool chests, unaware
of dogs howling and cats meowing
about yesterday's clear, silent miracle.